US President George W Bush still wants an American role in the country's rebuilding, but a big element will be helping create a legal framework to make investment safe so that Iraq can finance its own reconstruction, not providing the money itself.
"The key message here is that we're helping the government of Iraq to establish a policy framework that will enable private sector investment that will help reduce unemployment and generate jobs for the future," said Dawn Liberi, Iraq mission director for the US Agency for International Development.
Still, they gave no indication that the United States had any intention of adding significantly to the $21bn allocated by Congress in 2003 for reconstruction. They said $18bn of that has been set aside.
In their prepared statements, they detailed several reconstruction projects in recent months that show Iraq's progress. In the last six week alone, there have been 53 projects in eight provinces linked to roads, bridges, water and electricity, totalling $39 million.
An improved electrical network in Irbil has brought power to 30,000 more people, while a new water network in the Wasit province meant 16,000 people have better access.
"This is really part of the transition that's taking place where Iraqis are developing the programmes, designing the priorities for those programs and making decisions at the government level," said Ambassador Dan Speckhard, director of the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Office.
Brigadier General William McCoy, of the US Army Corps of Engineers said that in the electricity sector, 345 projects worth $2bn were either underway or completed. The country has seen an uptick in electricity, from 4-8 hours each day in March 2003 to 10-12 hours each day, despite a huge increase in demand.
McCoy said a key project was creating a national automated control system that can shift power to where it's most needed and help prevent nationwide blackouts.
"The Iraqi people are the real heroes and they continue to demonstrate the optimism, capacity and willingness to make the hard right choice in a very challenging stage in their national development," McCoy said. (Source) Gulf Daily News